With Stetson Kennedy, Wayne Greenhaw before we appeared together during a Civil Rights Session at the the 2011 Amelia Island Book Festival. Tragically, both Stetson and Wayne died later that year. More »
Members of the 1960 Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP TODAY---with Marjorie Meeks Brown, Dr. Arnett E. Girardeau, Iona Godfrey King, Rometa Graham Porter, Isaac Carnes, Alton Yates. More »
With NAACP National Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins in 1960 when he spoke in Jacksonville at one of the NAACP Mass Meetings. More »
With Dr. Michael Eric Dyson-Speaker at the 2009 Jacksonville Branch NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner. More »
With Dr. Charles Ogletree, the Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, and Founding and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice...and the Speaker at the 2008 Jacksonville Branch NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner. Dr. Ogletree taught both Michelle Obama and President Obama at Harvard Law School. More »
Ruby Hurley and Ella Baker, two of 12 Civil Rights Icons immortalized in the 2009 USPS Stamp Issue-Civil Rights Pioneers. More »
Mrs. Ruby Hurley, Southeastern Regional Director NAACP and our 1960 NAACP Youth Council Surrogate Mother. Mrs. Hurley spent several months in Jacksonville (because of Ax Handle Saturday) directing her activities as NAACP director and working with us as we dealt with civil rights issues in Jacksonville. You can imagine my pride when she was selected and featured on a stamp as a Civil Rights Pioneer. More »
With Dr. and Mrs. James Lowen and Mr. and Mrs. Ferdinand (Lois) JuLuke at Kingsley Plantation. Dr. Loewen spoke during the Jacksonville Branch NAACP 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the 1960 Sit-ins and Ax Handle Saturday. More »
With Civil Rights Stalwart and former Florida State Senator Dr. Arnett Girardeau, the first and only Black Senator to also serve as Senate President Pro Tempore, Ben Jealous, and wife, Ann. More »
At the Lufrano Gallery on the Campus of the University of North Florida for an Exhibit of Images in my Book---with Granddaughter, Kita; Son, Rodney II; Wife, Ann; Family Friend, Cheryl Coffey; and Granddaughter, Jasmine. More »
Book Images Exhibit - It was never about a hot dog and a Coke!- at the Lufrano Gallery at the University of North Florida. More »
50th Anniversary Commemoration of the 1960 Sit-ins and Ax Handle Saturday with members of the 1960 Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP. From left...Issac Carnes, Marjorie Meeks Brown, Mary Chisholm Underwood, Iona Godfrey King, and Ann Albertie Hurst (yep my wife). In the rear of the Pulpit area at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church...from left...Ms. Adora Nweze, President of the Florida State Conference of Branches NAACP; Rev. Dr. Randolph Bracy; Isaiah Rumlin, President of the Jacksonville Branch; and Bethel Senior Co-Pastor, Bishop Rudolph McKissick Sr. More »
It was my honor to serve as Banquet Emcee at the 98th Convention of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in Jacksonville, Florida October 5, 2013. Outstanding convention! More »
With the Incomparable Dr. Johnnetta Cole, Banquet Speaker at the 98th Convention of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and American Beach Historian and Author Marsha D. Phelts. More »
Channel surfing and came across a local news non-story (?) today where a Black minister from Georgia called a press conference in Jacksonville proclaiming we need Harsher Sentences for Black on Black Crime. This hastily called press conference(?) was attended at least by Channel 4 who immediately "ate the story up". No addition position on the harsher sentences other than we "just need harsher sentences". Good Republicant "red meat" comments. No position on Racist Trials. No position on intimidating young Blacks to accept extensive juvenile detention as a wedge against being tried as an adult…No position on racial profiling…No position on State Attorney Offices inability to recognize and admit a racist murder…No position on other needs in the community…no obvious consultation with local ministers. Another pastor joined him whom I did not recognize and Channel 4 treated them both as the "veritable" Second Coming. Remember February was ratings month for local TV stations so your local news spillover could include anything.
"Although Whites commit more types of homicides in comparison to Blacks, Blacks are more likely to be arrested and convicted. Whites are just as likely as Blacks to commit crimes against people of their own race, but Blacks often receive longer sentences and are more likely to be incarcerated or sentenced to d***h when they commit crimes against people of their own race. It is a double-standard that Whites who commit crimes are more likely to be acquitted, and Blacks who commit crimes and are more likely to be convicted. This historical issue of racially disparate treatment in the criminal justice system is another reason why people rally for justice. Using the “Black-on-Black Crime” argument only serves as a means to distract people from macro-level issues of injustice.
Crime within the Black community is indisputably an issue, however the “Black-on-Black Crime” argument should not be used as a means to distract the Black community from demanding justice within the criminal justice system. Blacks can simultaneously work towards improving their own crime trends and demand justice. So, let the protesters continue in their pursuits. If they want to march, let them march, if they want to sit-in, let them sit-in, if they want to boycott, let them boycott because when all is said and done, the protestors will be the vessels that will move this nation." Chenelle A. Jones, Ph.D. form Ohio Dominican University
Whenever I see some of these Johnny-Come-Lately Preachers making comments in isolation while ignoring the bigger picture…and especially those who show up only when the cameras are on…and then they only have something to say for the local press…who in turn sends their Resident-Black to cover the story(?)… you wonder which Republicant trough are they drinking from. Nothing from Nothing leaves Nothing and some of the Pretenders wearing a Cloth are Big Nothings!
The Struggle Continues. RLHSR.
Congratulations to St. Johns County Middle School Students Harrison Snowden and Elizabeth Fox for their "Axe Handle Saturday" Exhibit….winning the First Place Award in the Middle School division, and also capturing the Top Overall Award during the St. Johns County History Fair tonight at Bartram Trail High School. It was my pleasure to work with them but the real work was all theirs.
Congratulations also to the other student award winners in St. Johns County. Elizabeth and Harrison will represent St. Johns County with other selected St. Johns County student award winners at the State of Florida History Fair. Accolades to the parents of students who participated. I can't help but remember my love of history really began as a student in Mr. Rutledge Pearson's Eighth Grade American History Class at Isaiah Blocker Junior High School. Harrison and Elizabeth are also Eighth Graders.
BTW…note the real ax handle at the top of the exhibit,
The Struggle Continues. RLHSR.
The brilliant yet brutal 12 Years a Slave made history Sunday night as the first film directed by a Black man, with a predominately Black cast, to win an Oscar for best picture. In one of the most competitive Oscar races in recent memory, the honor was bestowed Sunday March 2, 2014 at the 86th Academy Awards.Special accolades to Lupita Nyong'o for her well deserved Supporting Actress Oscar. Producer Brad Pitt joined director Steve McQueen and the entire cast onstage to accept the coveted honor.
But… before we anoint Hollywood as the Savior of Imagery and doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do, let us pause for a moment.
Hollywood fell in love with these movies and glamorized the South and Southern Heritage. To this day you can still hear the “oohs” and “aahs” when discussions are held about these “great stylized” movies. To that and to Hollywood I say BS.
Hollywood does not get a passing grade after years of portraying racism as necessary. For those of you who feel an “A” should be Hollywood’s grade let me remind you…If you are failing a class…no classroom comments and contributions…no assignments turned in…no good book reports…missing assignments…and one day you get lucky and make a good grade on a test does not elevate your score from an “F” to an “A”.
Hollywood has a history of racism. Let me count the ways.
A Few of The Most Racist Movies Ever Made (in no particular order) – Thanks to AtlantaBlackStar.com
Song Of The South
Disney’s attempt to promote racial unity in the 1946 film “Song Of The South” was a complete failure. Based on post-Civil War plantation life, the story is difficult to watch, especially its portrayal of the ex-slave, Uncle Remus, who is so happy with his circumstances in the South.
Time magazine called the film “topnotch Disney.” In 2003, the Online Film Critics Society ranked the film as the 67th greatest animated film of all time. A special Academy Award was given “To James Baskett for his able and heart-warming characterization of Uncle Remus.”
White Dog (1982)
Movies are sometimes uncomfortable to watch when race is the topic, but Paramount didn’t seem to care when it made “White Dog.” In this film, a madman trains a white German Shepherd to attack and kill Black people. The dog is eventually rescued by a Black owner, who tries to reverse the dog’s racist training. At the conclusion of the film, the dog is accidentally trained to start killing white people instead and it is quickly shot dead. Dave Kehr, of the Chicago Tribune, praised Fuller for “pulling no punches” in the film and for his use of metaphors to present racism “as a mental disease, for which there may or may not be a cure”.
10,000 BC (2008)
This film, “10,000 BC,” has a template that is frequently found in Hollywood films. The white hero, against all odds, is able to gain support of Black tribes to help kill an enemy, so he can rescue his love. The film received largely negative reviews from critics, stating that the movie is mainly visual and lacks a firm screenplay.
The “Mandingo” plot is very simple. Mandingo has a relationship with the wife of a plantation owner who accuses him of rape—a crime for which he was killed in a vat of boiling water. Some observers believe this movie, like “King Kong,” was made to warn Black men to stay away from white women.
Movie critic Robin Wood was enthusiastic about the film, calling it “the greatest film about race ever made in Hollywood.” Roger Ebert on the other hand despised the film and gave it a “zero star” rating.
This entire list could have been dedicated to Disney projects, but “Fantasia” is one of the most blatant violations committed by animation filmmaker. Even in Fantasia’s beautiful, magical landscape, the black centaurs are hoof-polishing handmaidens for prettier, superior Aryan centaurs. Disney tried very hard to erase this from movie-goers’ memories by releasing later versions—minus the pickaninny centaur slaves.
Roger Ebert rated the film four stars out of four, and noted that throughout Fantasia, “Disney pushes the edges of the envelope”.
The Littlest Rebel (1935)
It would have been all too easy to populate this list with pickaninny caricatures from the ’30s, but the 1935 Shirley Temple film “The Littlest Rebel,” just had to make the cut. The film’s main purpose was to drive home the message of how happy Black folks were as slaves, so happy they sang and danced all day.
Bill Gibron, of the Online Film Critics Society, wrote at the time: “The racism present in The Littlest Rebel, The Little Colonel and Dimples is enough to warrant a clear critical caveat.” However Gibron, echoing most film critics who continue to see value in Temple’s work despite the racism that is present in some of it, also wrote: “Thankfully, the talent at the center of these troubling takes is still worthwhile for some, anyway.”
And Now we come to Two of the Most Racist Movies of all Time.
Gone With The Wind (1939)
“Gone With The Wind” glorifies the South during the time of slavery by suggesting that the region was better off during that era. It features heroine Scarlett O’Hara whose husband dies fighting for the Confederate Army in the Civil War. After her loss, the film drags viewers through a series of her hardships, implying that her life was so much better before Abraham Lincoln emancipated the slaves.
Frank S. Nugent for the The New York Times found it to be an “interesting story beautifully told”.
At the 12th Academy Awards held in 1940, Gone with the Wind set a record for Academy Award wins and nominations, winning in eight of the competitive categories it was nominated in, from a total of thirteen nominations.
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
“The Birth of a Nation” is a silent movie that was released in 1915 to critical acclaim for its portrayal of African-Americans, played by white actors in blackface. The film portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as victims of African-Americans.
The film earned $10 million in its initial release, and over the next 35 years increased its total to $50 million, holding the mantle of the highest grossing film until it was overtaken by “Gone with the Wind”.
It is amazing how film critics fall in love with some of these movies and overlook their racist tones…which does not say much for film critics.
So Hollywood you have a lot of making up to do. You have been a racist and one movie or two do not a reformed racist make. You have embraced core racist attitudes over many years. Understand it is also called Institutional Racism. Props and accolades to those associated with the movie because someone took a chance and showed slavery..to some degree…as it was. It is like making chicken salad without the chicken. You still have work to do. Just did not want you to get besides yourself and feel you deserved an “A”…because you do not.
The Struggle Continues. RLHSR.
Marchers in Jacksonville, Florida, protest the verdict against Michael Dunn. (Reuters)
My comments- When I read this, I wish I had written it. It is so profound and to the point, there is no need for additional commentary. I am posting this as written by the brilliant writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates on February 15, 2014 on the web site theatlantic.com.
"I wish I had something more to say about the fact that Michael Dunn was not convicted for killing a black boy. Except I said it after George Zimmerman was not convicted of killing a black boy. Except the parents of black boys already know this. Except the parents of black boys have long said this, and they have been answered with mockery.
Jordan Davis had a mother and a father. It did not save him. Trayvon Martin had a mother and a father. They could not save him. My son has a father and mother. We cannot protect him from our country, which is our aegis and our assailant. We cannot protect our children because racism in America is not merely a belief system but a heritage, and the inability of black parents to protect their children is an ancient tradition.
Henry "Box" Brown, whose family was destroyed and whose children were trafficked, knew:
I stationed myself by the side of the road, along which the slaves, amounting to three hundred and fifty, were to pass. The purchaser of my wife was a Methodist minister, who was about starting for North Carolina. Pretty soon five wagon-loads of little children passed, and looking at the foremost one, what should I see but a little child, pointing its tiny hand towards me, exclaiming, "There's my father; I knew he would come and bid me good-bye…”
Spare us the invocations of "black-on-black crime." I will not respect the lie. I would rather be thought insane. The most mendacious phrase in the American language is "black-on-black crime," which is uttered as though the same hands that drew red lines around the ghettoes of Chicago are not the same hands that drew red lines around the life of Jordan Davis, as though black people authored North Lawndale and policy does not exist. That which mandates the murder of our Hadiya Pendletons necessarily mandates the murder of Jordan Davis. I will not respect any difference. I will not respect the lie. I would rather be thought crazy.
I insist that the irrelevance of black life has been drilled into this country since its infancy, and shall not be extricated through the latest innovations in Negro Finishing School. I insist that racism is our heritage, that Thomas Jefferson's genius is no more important than his plundering of the body of Sally Hemmings, that George Washington's abdication is no more significant than his wild pursuit of Oney Judge. I insist that the G.I Bill's accolades are inseparable from its racist heritage. I will not respect the lie. I insist that racism must be properly understood as an Intelligence, as a sentience, as a default setting to which, likely until the end of our days, we unerringly return."
Amen! The Struggles Continues. RLHSR.
I will stop talking about Racism when you stop romanticizing about the Civil War…
I will stop talking about Racism when you admit the Civil War was fought to maintain slavery and only to maintain slavery…
I will stop talking about Racism when you admit 14 of 15 presidents before Abraham Lincoln owned slaves…
I will stop talking about Racism when you admit you are responsible for slavery instead of your convenient reasoning that African Chieftains and tribes are responsible…
I will stop talking about Racism when you apologize for slavery and the Jim Crow laws you passed to pacify your opinion Blacks are less than equals…
I will stop talking about Racism when after apologizing for slavery and having my ancestors “work” for you for free for more than 300 years, WE figure an adequate and just compensation for that involuntary free labor…
I will stop talking about Racism when you make American History inclusive of the many contributions by Blacks in the making of America and include those contributions in textbooks…
I will stop talking about Racism when you admit the Ku Klux Klan was and is a bunch of homespun, cowardly, racist terrorists…
I will stop talking about Racism when you stop passing laws which declare open war on Black Males for walking, and running, and playing music…
I will stop talking about Racism when you stop passing laws which eliminate and restrict my right to vote…
I will stop talking about Racism when you stop passing laws which eliminate my birthright of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”…
I will stop talking about Racism when you admit you are a Racist…not belabor it…Just admit it and we work on moving on. Deal? I didn’t think so.
The Struggle Continues. RLHSR.
If a Black man feared for his life as Michael Dunn claimed he did under Stand Your Ground or Anything Other Ground and fired point blank into a car of White teenagers killing one, there is no conversation. And if he talked about why he left town and his dog and feeling safe in his home county etc, he is plain and simply Guilty. The Court of Public opinion verdict =Absolutely Guilty. No legal analysts necessary. No Psychologists to analyze what was on his mind. His trial would be a foregone conclusion and the Guilty Verdict would be typed and ready for a jury foreman to read.This is still the legacy of America and Racism at its zenith.
Notwithstanding the verdict…and an appeal (one way or another)…and all of the racist demagoguery after the verdict (one way or another)…and all of the "cute" and stupid comments from local news "reporters"…as far as the "Criminal Injustice System" is concerned…from TOP to BOTTOM…a Black Man's life in these As Yet United States of America, is not worth a plug nickel.
And you do not have to like this, I really do not care – BUT – it really doesn't matter what the verdict is in the overall scheme of things. Oh do not get me wrong we always want Justice when most times there is no justice for Blacks.Like it or not, there will be another Michael Dunn just like Michael Dunn became another George Zimmerman. Young Black People…Do You Understand WHY the Struggle Continues?
The Struggle Continues, RLHSR.
Does Race Matter? Lying, gutless, racist White members of the United States House of Representatives entertaining lying, gutless, racist White constituents. Racists can say anything anywhere about MURDERING the Black President…have it heard by Members of the United States House of Representatives, even the racist variety…have it documented by the wimpish press …and nothing happens. When is it treason? When you advocate killing the President doesn't that also mean overthrowing the government?
If I made that statement, or if any Black person made that statement anywhere, let alone a public meeting, Homeland Security and every wannabee law enforcement agency would have me (us) jacked up in a heartbeat. If I threatened any president…forget the president…how about the Governor of Florida…how long would I walk around to make another threat? Can you even imagine a Black person threatening a White president and the press just goes "Ho-Hum"? It would be the headline story on some of these sorry newscasts.
Does the Secret Service responsibilities include protecting presidents or do they look the other way because we have a Black President? When is a threat a threat to be dealt with as a threat? It makes no sense and we entertain this virulent and racist behavior and call it freedom of speech. Does Race Matter? You bet it does!
The Struggles Continues. RLHSR.
Read this chapter that I am thinking about writing. The title is I AM DYING…
I am playing my music too loud in your opinion, and it so offends you, that you shoot at me while I am sitting in a car with 3 of my friends who happen to be Black. Your bullet hits me in the chest and in the head. I am wounded and I know I am dying.
Yeah sometimes when my mother thought I was playing my music too loud in my bedroom, my mother would say… "Boy if you do not turn that music down" and that was all she needed to say. Her words were enough and it was my mother, whom I dearly love. My mother is a good mother and so is my father. They raised me right. I am respectful to senior citizens and to my teachers and to my neighbors and to young ladies. I do not drink and I have never done drugs. I want to graduate from high school and attend college. I know I will not do that now because I am dying.
I remember seeing portions of a movie on TV called American Graffiti. I watched as those students played their music and some of it was loud perhaps. Yet no one threatened nor raised a gun and shot in their car to do them bodily harm. It was not important at the time but now that I think back on those movie scenes all of the students were White. I wonder if that is why the man shot into the car where I was sitting? Are racist attitudes and racism that prevalent today that you will kill me because of your perception of music too loud? If I was breaking the law why not call the police? Is playing music against the law? I heard some kids the other day playing Madonna, some might have thought it was loud. I did not.
All of that is moot I guess. Playing music is not in my future. Only a homicide detective…the medical examiner…the funeral director…a cemetery. I wonder if my parents will give the funeral director my favorite Blue suit and my new shoes I just got for my birthday. I do not know how it works and I cannot ask anyone. This dying sucks. I will miss my family and my friends and my classmates and my school and my church and my neighborhood and my girlfriend and my room and my favorite foods.
All this because my music was too loud? Really?
Like I said I was thinking about writing this but I changed my mind. Not realistic. Plus, no one would believe this. Sounds too much like fiction.
The Struggle Continues. RLHSR.
3rd Year INDUCTEES OF THE FLORIDA CIVIL RIGHTS HALL OF FAME…
Last year, I was the speaker for the 2nd Induction Ceremony of the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. During my remarks, I took the audience (Governor Scott included) on an oral excursion of Florida's Civil Rights Landscape pointing out those who through their courage and bravery made civil Rights possible; and highlighting the work of three of Jacksonville's Civil Rights Native Sons…James Weldon Johnson, A. Philip Randolph, and Rutledge Pearson. Although the process is a bit convoluted (my word) -nominations are made during a specified period from around the country of Floridians and their civil rights contributions to the staff of the Florida Commission on Human Relations-who then pick 10 nominees-and then forwards the nominees to the Governor to pick 3 names…some good decisions have been made. Last year's inductees were Margarita Romo, Dr. James Sanderlin, and the only husband and wife martyrs in the history of the Civil Rights Movement…Harriet and Harry T. Moore, who were inducted as one inductee.
The 2014 Inductees were recently announced and they are…James Weldon Johnson, A. (Asa) Philip Randolph, and Dr. Robert Hayling. Two Jacksonville sons and a third with major connections to Jacksonville.
Hats off to Lisa Ransom for submitting the application for James Weldon Johnson and others who also submitted applications for Mr. Johnson. Hats off to those who submitted applications for A. Philip Randolph. Hats off to those who submitted applications for Rutledge Pearson. We will continue to submit Mr. Pearson's name until he is afforded the rightful recognition for what he has represented for civil rights in this community, the State of Florida, and the country.
A special well deserved recognition for Dr. Robert Hayling, who is still standing, and his great work in St. Augustine during the Civil Rights era. I met Dr. Hayling in 1960 as Mr. Pearson and I traveled to St. Augustine several times to meet with him, and we had to meet with him at night. Too dangerous during the day and yes I am talking about St. Augustine even then. Dr. Robert Hayling was a brave man then; he is still a brave man today.
The Struggle Continues. RLHSR.
Lt. Vernon Baker
In 1993 the Army contracted Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, to research and prepare a study "to determine if there was a racial disparity (my words…plain old racism) in the way Medal of Honor recipients were selected." Shaw's team researched the issue and, finding that there was disparity, recommended the Army consider a group of 10 soldiers for the Medal of Honor. Of those 10, seven were recommended to receive the award.
In October of 1996 Congress passed the necessary legislation which allowed the President to award these Medals of Honor since the statutory limit for presentation had expired. The Medals of Honor were presented, by President William Clinton, in a ceremony on 13 January 1997.
First Lieutenant Vernon Baker was the only recipient still living and present to receive his award; the other six soldiers received their awards posthumously, with their medals being presented to family members.